'The Meg' review: Shark bait hoo ha ha

The Meg

Sharks, sharks and more sharks.

The Meg is a movie about a giant, 70-foot long prehistoric shark that swims around and eats people until he’s stopped by Jason Statham. Everything you need to know about the movie can be found in that sentence alone because there’s really not that much more to The Meg than that.

It comes from director Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping), who replaced Eli Roth from the project. I still want to see Roth’s take on this movie at some point, please and thank you.

The Meg is also based on a novel of the same name — a fact that totally blows my mind for some reason. I’ve accepted the fact that Hollywood is going to make movies like this that premiere on the Syfy network every other week, but the fact that someone took a concept like this and turned it into literature that lots of people seem to enjoy is really quite something.

The film is set somewhere off the coast of Shanghai, down beneath the depths of the ocean.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

That’s where scientists Mac (Cliff Curtis), Zhang (Winston Chao), Suyin (Bingbing Li), Jaxx (Ruby Rose), DJ (Page Kennedy) and Heller (Robert Taylor) are all working on a discovery that could change the known world as we know it.

Apparently, they’ve discovered that the deepest part of the ocean isn’t where we previously thought it was. Zhang has uncovered a dark underwater cloud that everyone presumed to be the ocean floor, but actually can be traveled through to reveal tons more ocean space (don’t ask me how that works. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t actually work).

Instead of, oh I don’t know, doing the smart thing and sending down a drone or other piece of equipment — given that this place literally costs over a billion dollars and all — they decide to do the much smarter thing and send humans down there right away, despite the fact that they have no clue what’s waiting for them.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

Having seen the trailers, we all do know what’s waiting for them — a Megladon shark.

Bigger than any other creature that’s ever been known to exist, as it quite literally eats whales for breakfast, the Megladon is more dangerous than anything this research team could ever have prepared for. After encountering it for just a brief second, they’re suddenly having mechanical failures and need to be rescued.

And there’s only one man who can do it: Jason freakin’ Statham.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

Believe it or not, Jonas (Statham) and this shark actually have some history. Statham’s job is to perform underwater rescues when ships go haywire, and while he’s completed dozens of these, he’ll never forget the time where he and the meg came face-to-face five years ago. Nobody believed him until now, of course (as they really shouldn’t have), but he’s always known that it’s real.

Now that the meg is back and this time heading for open waters, he’s got a find a way to stop it before it causes all kinds of damage.

I’m going to say it again: I really want to see what Eli Roth’s take on The Meg would have been. He went off to direct that terrible Death Wish remake with Bruce Willis that nobody saw when this sounds like a property that could have been perfect for his bloody, chaotic directing capabilities.

Instead, we get Turteltaub. While he may be trying to inject as much fun and insanity as he can into this thing, it really pales into comparison as to what The Meg could have and should have been.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

The PG-13 rating doesn’t help. The Meg wants to be this gory monster flick in which hundreds of casualties are swallowed whole, but since the studios didn’t want this to be rated R so that it could appeal to a wider audience, there’s only so much that can be done. Most of the deaths take place off-screen, as this whole thing feels pretty tame and mild compared to what the source material would suggest it should be.

That’s not to say that being gory automatically makes for a good movie, but when the point of The Meg is to be bloody, don’t think too much about its time at the theaters and they can’t even deliver on that, then somethings not right here.

The bigger problem with The Meg is that it can’t really do storyline or characters all too well either. This movie clocks in at almost 2 hours, when it really should have been closer to 90 minutes. There are so many moments and unnecessary plot-points (the love story) or characters (Rainn Wilson) that make this thing a much slower drag than it should have been.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

Jason Statham is being classic Jason Statham, meaning he’s walking around without a shirt for the most of the movie and trying to coast on nothing but his charisma, with nothing more to his character than that. Maybe The Meg still could have worked if Dwayne Johnson was the one cast in the lead, but I really just needed something more to hold on to here character-wise.

I will give The Meg some credit, though — it’s at least trying to take itself seriously at times. I wasn’t really anticipating much just because the description sounds like another Sharknado movie, and that’s not a series or concept I, personally, enjoy. The Room excluded, I don’t find the ‘so bad that they’re good’ genre entertaining at all.

The Meg
credit: YouTube

The Meg sometimes wanders into that territory occasionally, but it’s not nearly as obnoxious as I was expecting. There aren’t any fourth wall breaks or winks to the camera, as they’re at least trying to present a cognitive narrative with actual stakes.

Obviously, it’s not going to reach the height of Jaws, because there is no shark movie from now until the rest of time that will be able to match what Steven Spielberg did with that movie. I appreciate that The Meg is at least trying to do something different, though. This isn’t just another direct Jaws copycat (even though the taglines have some pretty cringe-worthy Jaws references), it wants to be different and new. I just wish it knew how to do those things a bit better.

Watch the trailer for The Meg here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!

'The Meg' review: Shark bait hoo ha ha
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.

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